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Despite getting overwhelming public support, the beach nourishment project—a vital component of the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program—was also met by vicious opposition from certain groups and individuals, one of them is Infrawatch PH convenor Terry Ridon. This gentleman has been criticizing the project, claiming it was “overpriced.” In the spirit of fairness, I took it upon myself to call him on the phone, not once but thrice on different occasions, to make him understand that the overlaying of dolomite sand was not overpriced as he thought.

During the first time I called him, I explained to him that the project is estimated to cover 30,000 square meters, with the length of 500 meters x 60 meters width. To make it looked overpriced, Ridon divided the project cost, which is P389 million, by 500 meters, instead of the number of square meters. This erroneous formula led him to conclude that the project costs P778,000 per meter. But if he divided P389 million by 30,000 square meters, the result would be P12,267 per square meter, which is quite reasonable. He certainly got a lecture on Math 101.

I also explained to him that only P28 million was used to emplace the crushed dolomite rocks. Moreover, the amount covers not only the price of the crushed dolomites, but the whole package which includes the delivery cost from Cebu to Manila Bay.

I also told Ridon that, “You don’t do that to a friend,” since I consider him as such, not to mention that he also once served under the Duterte administration as chair of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor. He merely shrugged and told me that we just explain it to the public, which is actually what we have been doing all along.

I tried to reach out again to Ridon on second occasion to reiterate our response to his allegation, but my call fell on deaf ears and he continued with his unfounded criticisms against the project.

Finally, I called him again for the third time as he kept on insisting that the project was overpriced despite my repeated explanation. Out of frustration, I blurted “bobo ka sa Math.”

In all these circumstances, I tried to reach out to him in the hope that he would listen with an open mind about our mission to bring Manila Bay back to its former glory. But his actions speak that whatever this government undertakes, will only get a flak from him and his group. It is quite ironic because Ridon worked with us in the Duterte administration during its early years.

No wonder President Rodrigo Roa Duterte fired Ridon after finding out about his unnecessary travels abroad. In a span of only one year and two months, Ridon was able to travel to Ecuador (October 2016), Morocco (November 2016), New Delhi (December 2016), Beijing (July 2017), New York (September 2017), and Bonn, Germany (December 2017), spending more than Php1.1 million for these travels. #